Today we’d like to introduce you to Yris Demartini.
Yris, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
One of my earliest memories is when I was seven years old in first grade. This was in Peru about 20 years ago, and the school system was, and still is, different from here. I’ve always been outgoing and made friends quickly, so the very first day and I ran towards the classroom waving goodbye to my mother excited to learn and make new friends. I noticed that one of my classmates was isolated, and no one would interact with him even during recess. I gave it a week to see if he would connect with someone, but after two weeks process was not made. He would sometimes be bullied by the other kids calling him different names, such as weirdo. Since I had a lot of friends, I invited him to sit at my table. I observed his behavior, and it was not your typical one. He would sometimes hit his head or stomach and was not capable of having normal social interactions. To keep things in perspective, there wasn’t a lot of information available about autism and how it should be treated, especially not in Peru. But there I was, giving him all the patience and social interaction, he needed. I would go to his house to play with him and do homework together sometimes. Little by little, his social skills began to improve. His need to always hit his head or stomach diminished. By the beginning of second grade, his difficulty with communication and social interactions, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors showed improvement. I remember his mother told me I had changed his life, but to me, Angelo had changed mine.
Ever since then, whenever I have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life, I don’t think twice, and I go for it.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Ha! In a perfect world, obstacles would not exist. It has not been a smooth road, but I am grateful for all the challenges I’ve faced thus far. I see them more as stepping stones towards the next challenge. Some of the early struggles I’ve encountered along the way was leaving my single mother in Peru. Instead of worrying too much about me having to adapt to a new culture, language, climate, etc., I was more concerned about how lonely my mother would be. Moving from city to city and getting a divorce last year has also brought some challenges because I had to start all over again. Although to me, that was somewhat empowering because there is nothing more, I love that to put myself out of my comfort zone to see how fast I can rebuild everything.
Lastly, not too long ago, someone I had been taking care of for twelve years passed away. He was only twelve years old and even though I tried my best to help him; it did not work out. That has been one of the hardest things, accepting that sometimes things are out of our control even when we try our hardest.
Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
As I mentioned before, Angelo was the one that changed my life and not the other way around. That made me pursue a bachelor and master’s degree in psychology. What I love about my field is that it is applicable everywhere. I have worked in the finance, government, entrepreneurship, and entertainment industries; and I can tell you I’ve applied what I’ve learned in every role I had. Aside from my career, I invest a lot of my time in the community. Being part of Miami Model Citizens, Miami Rescue Mission, Peggy Adams, and Lotus House has given me to volunteer at different events and devote my time directly to children and rescued animals, which I love! I also volunteer on my own and invite my friends to join me, hoping they will keep volunteering on their own.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
When people ask me how I’ve been able to remain the way I am after going through so much, I always tell them it’s because I chose to look at the positive side of everything. There will always be bad things happening around us, and we can only focus on what it is in our control – we can choose to make a difference and set an example. That’s what I try to do. I’ve had nothing and then I had everything, and I’ve always found that having the right attitude and being grateful makes a huge difference. I believe that each of us carries within ourselves the potential to become the best version of ourselves.
Another piece of advice I give to everyone is to work on their awareness and self-awareness. Those two components play a significant role in our day-to-day actives and relationships.
- Address: @yrsdemar
- Instagram: @yrsdemar
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yrisdemartini/